Friday, 23 June 2017

The young Great Crested Grebe was fishing near the island. It is beginning to grow flight feathers, and has the first sign of a black crest. It will keep its stripy head until the end of the year and then grow adult plumage, though it won't have the full magnificent headgear for another year.

Its father was nearby fishing under the pedalos, where fish like to lurk in the shade

At the nest in the fallen poplar on the Long Water, it was time to do a bit of housekeeping. Grebes' soggy nests slump slowly into the water, and have to be continually built up to keep them afloat.

The Little Grebes were calling to each other near the bridge, but disappeared into a reed bed before I could get up on to the bridge for a closer shot.

The intruding Mute Swan was back on the Long Water tearing up reeds to make a nest, which has also made it more visible.

The dominant female passing the reed bed with her cygnets must have seen it, but didn't intervene, and the male seemed to be leaving it alone too. Is he losing his grip on his territory? Over the years he has fought hard to retain it, surviving a dog attack and the loss of his first mate to a fox, and it seems unlikely that he would give up easily.

Inevitably, the Mallard has lost more ducklings to the gulls. She crossed in front of Peter Pan with three, and prudently hid them in the bushes on the other side.

But on the way she was chased by two drakes, and had to fly off and desert her young for a minute. Luckily they were right at the edge at the time, out of the reach of swooping gulls.

There was a surprise visit to the gravel bank by five male Pochards. The resident population is only three, or perhaps two now as I haven't seen the spare male for some time. Normally Pochards are winter migrants. Probably these ones have come from another park.

A Moorhen was feeding a chick next to the reed bed by the bridge.

At the far end of the Serpentine, a Greylag Goose reached up for a reed to chew.

In the shrubbery near the bridge, a young Magpie was pestering a parent for food.

On the shore below, a male Feral Pigeon was courting a female, billing and cooing and trotting round and round her until she was sufficiently bewildered to let him mate.

The female Little Owl near the leaf yard came out on her branch for a short time, but it was windy and there were Magpies about, so she soon went back into her hole.

A rabbit was resting in the shade of the Henry Moore sculpture, but a Grey Heron landed on top of it and the rabbit dashed for cover.


  1. The juvenile magpie's "FEED me"! behaviour is very charming.

    1. It's the same behaviour as that of smaller songbirds, and reminds you that corvids are songbirds of a very large kind.

  2. Good description of pigeon 'courtship'. I read somewhere that feral pigeons are monogamous; seems to me the London version is utterly promiscuous (male) and rather under-interested (female). Still- effective, clearly.

    1. For all I know they may be models of conjugal virtue. They just look disreputable.

    2. I suggest that female pigeons know what they are about, in this case the male seemed unsure of his moves and/or wanted to get the foreplay right. This female was interested in or paired with the male from the start, although one sees many unsuccessful advances by 'caddish' males. Jim

    3. Poor fumbling male, I know the feeling.